Smombies are smartphone zombies or distracted pedestrians, while the activity is known as walking while texting. It is a serious problem and this is why many cities around the world are launching initiatives to limit the damage.
In South Korea – where road accidents caused by the use of smartphones have doubled in five years – the government has invented a system that blocks mobile phones while the user is walking: after 5 steps, if you are checking social networks or sending messages, the screen freezes. This feature has been inserted in the Cyber Security Zone app, and all parents will have to install it on the mobile phones of underage children.
To prevent traffic accidents involving pedestrians distracted while using their smartphones, Augsburg in Bavaria and Bodegraven in the Netherlands have installed traffic lights in the pavements: the pavement lights follow those at road level so that even pedestrians who have their eyes on the ground can see if the traffic light is red.
In Honolulu, capital of Hawaii, if you cross the street looking at your smartphone you risk a fine, while in Chongqing, China, the pavement has been divided into two lanes: one lane for people who want to look at their phones and another lane for those who walk with their heads up.
Another initiative with a huge social impact was implemented last year in Sweden: Volkswagen offered for sale some iPhone cases made with materials recovered from cars destroyed in accidents caused by the mobile phone use (Crashed Cases). The proceeds from the online sale of the cases were donated to Trafikskadefonden, an organization that helps the victims of road accidents.
Lastly, to raise awareness among citizens about the proper use of mobile phones, the Province of Bolzano, Italy, placed fuchsia bumpers on lamp posts so that people who walk around distracted by their smartphones can “bump” into a lamp post without hurting themselves. The campaign has a website with lots of tips for young people to use their mobile phone properly http://staysmart.it/.